Once, in a famous movie, the heroine said to the hero, “Don’t forget, I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” In that case, the heroine was trying to convince the hero that even though she was a famous movie star and he was a bookshop owner, she still had normal romantic needs.
Sometimes, we are girls standing in front of a boy, not asking him to love her necessarily, but wanting many other things. A steamy kiss, three days of slow sex, two hours of re-enacting Aaj Rapat Jaye — a girl may have a long list of desires. But you have to start somewhere, right?
You have to start with the first move.
Is it okay for women to make the first move?
Short answer: Totally.
Long answer. It doesn’t make you look too aggressive or rude or desperate or unsexy. Some women worry that men might judge them for making a move. Chah! First of all, if he’s the kind of man who judges you negatively just for expressing your genuine interest in him, imagine how he will feel about other things. Imagined? Doesn’t seem like the kind of guy you’d really want to be crushing on anyway now, does he?
Still, if you’re not convinced and need a little reassurance, check this: most of the men we spoke to anyway said they quite liked it when a woman made the first move. They say it feels like there’s a kind of pressure on men to always make the first move, but having a woman do it makes men feel attractive and desired, and takes some pressure off them. So whenever it happens, they say it’s both exciting and a bit of a relief.
Plus, most people like knowing that someone is into them, and there’s a good chance that they’ll react nicely even if they don’t feel the same way in return. Siann, a 34-year-old freelance writer from Bombay, says that as she’s grown older, she’s realised that it’s okay for someone not to like you back.
It’s true. Learning how to deal with rejection is part of adulthood, and the fear of a possible rejection shouldn’t stop you from making a move in the future.
But don’t be creepy. Some people have a weird belief about men: that they always want ‘it’ (matlab sex, flirting, relationship), so women should just go ahead and say whatever they want, whenever they want and the guy will immediately be game. But that’s a creepy way to think about guys and totally untrue. Men aren’t sex machines who are always on, and they may not want it right now, or with you, or right now with you, or at all. It’s up to you to find out what his scene is respectfully, without being a creep.
Stage 1: Should you make a move?
Are you in a professional setting? This could be work, an after-office gathering, a conference… Even your house can be considered a professional setting if you have people working and offering services out of your home.
If the answer is ‘yes’, we’d highly recommend stepping carefully and avoid making a move, verbal or otherwise.
At this point, you are probably saying, “If I don’t meet cute people at work, where am I supposed to meet them?” Sure, sure. Life is short, but hold on and keep reading.
Are you the other person’s boss? If the answer is yes, just don’t do it. Don’t do it now. Don’t do it in a ‘weak moment’ or a ‘strong feelings moment’. Don’t. Even if you are not the other person’s direct boss, do you have any control in decisions about their employment? If the answer is yes, then don’t do it.
Do you have any part to play in the future of the other person’s organisation? As an investor, auditor, major customer, advisor and so on… Then don’t. Are you an influential person in your industry and the other person is several rungs below you? For instance, you are a professor who is often called to conduct viva for MPhil students. Is the other person an MA or MPhil student? If the answer is yes, you know what to do. Smile politely and swallow any feelings you are currently experiencing. Are you in a college? If yes, is the other party over 18? Alright, but is the other party your student? Then the answer is NO.
Is the other party your classmate, junior or senior? Then the answer is YES, skip ahead to Stage 2.
Are you colleagues at the same level with no particular power over each other’s future? If the answer is yes, you can skip ahead to Stage 2.
Are you at a wedding, a party or a friend’s house? If the answer is yes, you can skip ahead to Stage 2.
Are you on Tinder/OkCupid or another dating app? Skip to Stage 2.
Is the person drunk? Then you know the answer: NO.
Is the person asleep or half-asleep? Then: NO.
Has the bijli gone? If you are a total stranger please keep quiet and look for candles. Don’t leap just because you can’t look. If you are not total strangers, light the candles and move to Stage 2.
If someone says they have a wife, girlfriend or significant other, making a move is probably a no-go. If you know they’re gay, because they said so or some other reasonable assumption, don’t make a move.
Stage 2: How To Do It
The first step is to get close enough, no, not just to admire the length of their eyelashes. But to start, enough for them hear you.
If you’ve never made conversation with them before, and have only admired from afar, what are you waiting for? How else will they know how cool and interesting you are?
You may find it easier to start or carry on a conversation over text or phone, and that’s just fine. It can help deepen the intimacy while bypassing some of the mandatory awkwardness. Plus, emojis! Whatever your preferred mode of communication is, just start talking.
Do you find it hard to just go up and introduce yourself? Come on, what are friends for if not to help you with your love life and make fun of you later? Asking a common friend to connect you too is an easy way of getting in touch, and also a bit less creepy than sending anonymous love notes through a friend who doesn’t know him either.
Once you have been introduced, talk about your shared interests and the things that excite you. It lets them know what you’re about, and there’s something super nice about the way people get when talking about things they like: they’re likely to find the interested side of you, well, interesting ☺
If face-to-face is more your style than texting, you’re also in a bit of luck: it opens the doors to making some super-casual physical contact. Matlab don’t go sit on their lap and gaze deeply into their eyes right away… you know, casual stuff. Touch the hand, or forearm, or upper arm or shoulder, just by-the-way in a conversation. See how they react and move on to the good stuff.
Or you can just try making open-ended statements. You know, statements that drop a hint or two, but that aren’t so obvious that you’ve laid all your cards on the table. A lot of people like doing this because it saves them from any potential embarrassment in case dude isn’t feeling it too.
If all this tip-toeing around doesn’t float your boat, you can, of course, just make a direct move, like telling him you have a crush on him and asking him what he feels, or doing something with loaded connotations, like buying him a drink at a bar.
Stage 3: How not to do it
It’s hard to be rejected. Sometimes, rejection makes you feel that if you persist your (imaginary) lover will change his mind. Feeling determined is easier than feeling depressed. This results in some behaviour which does not at first glance seem violent or creepy but definitely is. What are some common types?
1. Textual creepy: You send good morning messages every day. You send all kinds of texts through the day. Not always romantic. Never sexual. But he never replies. You should stop.
2. New-age creepy: After a boy tells you he’s just not feeling it, think it over. Does it sound like he needs some space, maybe a break from all the texts and chats and meets? Okay cool. If you think this is what’s needed right now, just go ahead and give him that space and respect it. But there’s no good reason to report back to the guy to tell him your new intention, and to inform him details of your plan to stay away and get better and better every day in every way. Telling the other person again and again that you are giving them space is actually the opposite of actually giving them space.
3. Shuddh desi creepy: I made halwa for you. I am keeping Monday vrat for you. My mother said hi. Very sweet but if someone has said no, you should assume they don’t want halwa or hi from your ma. Whatever you’re going for, it’s probably not going to work. In fact, it’s a little bit creepy and we wouldn’t 100 percent blame him if he feels weird about what you’re doing. ☺Also, there’s no need to starve for a boy, and if you’re just trying to look out for his well-being, maybe do it in your mind? Let the universe take care of him.
4. Curious creepy: “But why, I mean, just tell me why.” When a boy sends you the message that he doesn’t like you, he doesn’t really have to tell you exactly why. It could be something as small as a vibe to a memory to a supposition of incompatibility, but it doesn’t mean you have to bug him every 5 minutes to tell you exactly what.
5. Strong and creepy: “I am a strong woman and you don’t like strong women.” This may be true. And if he doesn’t like strong women, then well, he doesn’t. He won’t start because you’ve shown him the error of his ways. Once a no comes in your direction you don’t have to give him a character analysis either. A guy not liking you doesn’t mean that he’s a bad guy, or an anti-feminist guy, or a guy who can’t “handle” someone as strong as you are – or maybe he is. Either way, He is just not the guy for you.
It’s hard when your spontaneous or well-thought out ishq move didn’t bring the full-throated ‘yes, yes, a thousand times yes,’ that you’d hoped for. But if you can live with the rejection for a little while, and allow the disappointment to pass, you will live to ishq another day.